2023-05-02 10:36:48

2023-05-02 10:36:48

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Prayer for Palm SundayPrayer for Palm Sunday

Prayer for Palm Sunday  

Dear Heavenly Father—I wonder what it was like for Jesus on that Palm Sunday so very long ago. All the crowds cheering and praising him. Streets crowded with followers, shouting his name, some trying to out-yell the others, so caught up in the frenzy of adoration. The donkey, just as Jesus predicted, found and brought to him so he could ride into Jerusalem as a hero. The scent of crushed palm branches heavy in the air.

And yet, Jesus must have scanned the crowd, looking at individual faces and wondering. “Perhaps that woman waving her palm branch and shouting my name—will she soon be among those shouting “Barabbas—free Barabbas—we’d rather free a robber-murderer than Jesus”? Or that man, so impressed to be near me, so full of adoration, will he be part of the crowd that screams “Crucify him! Crucify him!”. And the disciples, caught up in the scene, basking as part of Jesus’ entourage. “We know him,” they may have shouted back at the crowd, eager for Jesus’ reflected glory. “We know him well! We’re his followers!” How excited everyone was, the weather perfect, the crowds lining the street all of one mind, all intent on acknowledging Jesus and his power, his miracles, his authority.

I’ve had days like that, Lord, days when everything seemed to go so well. Praise ringing in my ears from people I cared about. “Good job!” they said, or “Sandy you scored higher than anyone else!” Or even, “No one but you could have done so well!” Words that stroked my ego, words that wrapped themselves around me and made me feel important, valued loved. But unlike you, Lord, I had no idea of what lay ahead. I never anticipated hearing, from the same people, “We’re disappointed in you, Sandy, we thought you would have done better” or “You surely let us down with that performance”. I tried, in my own mind, to question their authority or their validity, their judgment. Sometimes I took away my love, feeling they no longer earned it.

That palm strewn Sunday, with all its hoopla, all of its celebration, would lead within a few days to a dark afternoon on a hill named Golgotha. And you knew it Lord, you were perfectly aware of the events awaiting you—events that would erase this sunny day and its crowds and its adoration. You knew the agony of torture, dragging through town the very cross on which you would hang. You knew the denials and betrayals and fear that would turn the crowds against you and make them kill you.

The difference between you and me, Lord, is that you knew all of this and, with an intensity beyond my comprehension, continued to love. Continued to love those who shouted loudest and were equally intense spitting on you that same week. Loving those disciples who couldn’t stay awake and watch with you on an agonizing night of pain and fear. Loving those who claimed not to know you because they were afraid they’d suffer your fate. Loving each of us despite our failures and our on/off again relationship with you. Loved us when we didn’t love you back. If there is a message to be gained from that sunny entry into Jerusalem, a celebration like that given to Super Bowl heroes, it is love. Unrequited, undeserved, unwarranted love. Wave a palm branch and scream “Hosanna” or scream equally loud, “Crucify Him!” It’s still love.

And so, Dear Lord, I come to you on this Palm Sunday. Forgive me for the times I betray you, forgive me for my tepid love, and most of all please forgive me for failing to forgive. Remind me always your response to all the crowds—those who come to praise you and those who come to crucify you, your response is the same, “I love you”. That’s all we need to know.

A New ChapterA New Chapter

After 4 wonderful years at St. George Island UMC, Pastor Brian Brightly will be retiring for the second time. Pastor Brian has been a blessing to SGI and has been the push of many successful missions that have been achieved in our community.

  1. A new after school state funded program in Eastpoint with 100 children
  2. A new family ministry at Hope Park on 159 Bear Creek Rd
  3. An expanded faith based prison ministry working with churches and over 40 volunteers
  4. A reading program for 3rd graders in Franklin Schools
  5. Continuing thrift stores in both SGIUMC and Eastpoint
  6.  A new scout initiative in Eastpoint, Carrabelle, and Apalachicola; registered as Pack #22 with 35 adults and youth.

His participation and dedication to Franklin County will be missed! Rev. Bob Tindale will be the interim pastor for SGIUMC from July to the time the church is able to select a permanent pastor. Rev. Tindale will be a great asset to SGIUMC and is very familiar with the people of Franklin County. We are excited for the change and warmly welcome him to the family.

Pine PollenPine Pollen

  It’s pine pollen time on the island!  Though I rarely see the yellow particles in the air, I can readily identify their presence on everything left outside—tables, beach shoes, chair, and our car.  All surfaces are coated with a fine yellow film that makes some cough and sneeze.  Once I saw the wind dislodge clouds of pine pollen, setting drifting across the bay though usually it’s invisible.  Despair and depression can be like that.  Individual causes may seem minor, but soon they accumulate and coat everything that should be shiny and bright.  Suddenly the world is dulled in despair and hopelessness.  Please help me, O Lord, to shake myself free of this choking coating so that my enjoyment of the life you’ve given me is not clouded by the accumulation of problems and worries I’ve let pile up.  Help me to breathe in the breath of your life and your love so, like the pine pollen set adrift over the water, I am free to be joyful in your presence. Amen.